City spends $500K a year to save 13 jobs

Evanston spends over $500,000 extra a year for garbage and recycling services to keep 13 jobs on the city payroll.

Evanston spends over $500,000 extra a year for garbage and recycling services to keep 13 jobs on the city payroll.

And the city staff, fearing adverse reaction from aldermen intent on preserving jobs for city residents, is proposing to trim those excess costs by just $120,000 next year.

A city report outlining the city’s decade-long effort to rein in sanitation costs shows that efforts to make city sanitation operations as cost-effective as the private contractors that serve most nearby suburbs has had only limited success — trimming about $100,000 from total sanitation spending over the past two years.

Sixty percent of the city’s sanitation workers live in Evanston, and that led Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, to cast a skeptical eye at Monday’s Administration and Public Works Committee meeting on even the limited service changes that the city’s streets and sanitation superintendent, Suzette Eggleston, proposed.

Jean-Baptiste said he feared “significant impact on people” who are long-term residents. He also contended that the city has been shortchanging local residents in hiring for higher level jobs in the city, making it even more important to preserve the sanitation jobs.

“I’m not going to vote for a proposal that results in jobs being lost for Evanston residents with the city,” Jean-Baptiste said.

The city now spends $4.2 million a year to collect and dispose of garbage and recyclables from single family homes, condos and apartments. Garbage hauling from single family homes and small apartment buildings is done by city workers. Contractors haul garbage from larger condos and apartment buildings and collect recycling from all dwellings.

If the city got out of the garbage hauling business, it would save nearly $1 million in worker wages and benefits and nearly $900,000 in annual costs to repair and replace its fleet of garbage trucks and stock of refuse carts.

Instead, it would pay an estimated $1.3 million to a private hauler to do the work, based on costs in nearby communities.

But Eggleston proposes that, when the city’s current contract with a private hauler for recycling pickups from single-family homes ends next year, the city should switch roles and have a private hauler do garbage pickups while city workers would take over the recyling work at single-family homes.

Eggleston said the city could eliminate four of the 13 garbage hauling jobs by making the switch.

The said those cuts are possible because the recycling trucks can be run by one-man crews, compared to two-man crews on the garbage trucks, and because the total volume of material recycled is smaller — requiring just one trip per truck per day to the Glenview transfer station, rather than two.

Eggleston said two of the jobs to be eliminated are currently vacant, and the other two workers would be reassigned to street maintenance work.

She said the net result would be no impact on sanitation employees who are Evanston residents.

But another aspect of Eggleston’s plan would have a direct impact on city residents’ wallets. She proposes to raise the monthly sanitation fee collected on city water bills from $6.95 to $9.95 — an increase of $36 a year per household that would bring in an extra $700,000 in revenue to the city.

Editors’ Picks